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Arthur Miller’s Play The Crucible, and Edna St. Vincent’s poem Justice denied in Massachusetts

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History had left many with wrongful convictions, while no one can be certain of a person’s innocents, looking back it appears as if many trials were conducted poorly, and that the convictions of were based on unreliable and unbelievable circumstantial evidence. Now, only in hindsight, is it seen the errors made initially, and the failure of justice caused hysteria. Never is this more evident then in Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, and Edna St. Vincent poem, Justice Denied in Massachusetts.

While justice is meant to be administered with utmost fairness and equality Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible demonstrates that this does not always prevail, and in many circumstances the forces of injustices are exposed. Those appointed to administer justice often misuse their power resulting in a lack of justice. In addition, Justice failed to protect the individuals of Salem and instead was blinded by their personal jealousies, vengeance, fear, and greed. Similarly, in the poem Justice Denied in Massachusetts by Edna St. Vincent Millay the justice administered by the judge was blinded by race, color, and background.

In The Crucible justice failed to protect the innocent, as individuals of Salem used the witch trials to make wild accusations against their neighbors for their own personal gain. The Putnam family, in order to gain more land and to settle old grievances, show some of the greed and jealousy that overtake the trials. Thomas Putnam takes advantage of the witch trials and is quick to accuse people so he can take over their land. He starts arguing about the boundaries of his land as he tries to drag John Proctor into a witch scandal. This is done so that Putnam can buy up the land when it becomes forfeited. Goody Putnam accuses the honest Rebecca Nurse about the supernatural murders of her dead children. Mrs. Putnam envies for the family that Rebecca is proud to have and this causes her to accuse Rebecca of killing her children through witchcraft. She corrupts justice by accusing innocent victims, as she cannot come to terms with not being able to produce healthy children.

Fear is a powerful emotion, and a reason for the unjust accusations made. Abigail uses her power of fear to control the girls and force them to join her. Through their combined fear, the girls learn to pass the blame onto others. This is done no-matter what the consequences of their unjust actions. This led the Salem community to believe that they are highly moral and upstanding neighbors are responsible for these sinful actions. Abigail uses this opportunity to gain control over the adults of Salem, and accuses Elizabeth of witchcraft in order to be with John Proctor. This is because of her lust for John and jealousy towards Elizabeth. Clearly, many members of Salem community took advantage of this hysteria for personal gain. Therefore, justice cannot protect the innocent as it has been abused.

Similarly, Millay uses Justice Denied in Massachusetts, to show the unjust sentence of two Italian immigrants in the 1920’s. In the poem, Millay uses imagery in her writing to speak of her perspective on the justice system. Her outlook on the justice system is rather depressing, showing that it does not always present the best outcome. Millay’s statement, “And the petals drop to the ground, Leaving the tree unfruited,” show the dreadful outlook people have for their society. The laws and lifestyle that people have, have caused them to sacrifice justice and morals. This line also has a larger symbolic meaning; the falling leaves symbolize society’s motives to protest injustices. There is a generally a pessimistic and dreary tone to the poem, as is evident through imagery used by Millay. It is evident in many instances that this dreary tone has taken over the view of the writer. “See now the slug and the mildew plunder.

Evil does overwhelm,” follow the design of the dreariness and despair put forth by the constraints of society. In a time where wrongful persecutions, accusations, and punishments are handed out, these actions follow the idea of the time. Another line combines in forming the pessimistic view that people have on the social injustices, “We shall not feel it again. We shall die in the darkness.” The social injustices of the time have become so influential that no matter what is done, they cannot be over come. The people have more or less given up on the judicial system and have given into the fact that they live in a society of great injustice.

Both works have the overall view that society is plagued by injustices and that corruption is so rampant that it will never be able to return to
judging a situation fairly. The persecution of the innocent for beliefs they hold true, and their wrongful convictions in their society, due to the unjust leaders and law enforcers. Society has created a dark cloud over society, causing a great depression and loss of will to fight these social injustices.

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